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La Bayadere


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#16 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 04:47 AM

I'm off to the Part/Whiteside/Abrera La Bayadere.  I will post more later.  To those who were at Friday's performance just one question.  Who danced the Bronze Idol (why he's called bronze I don't know because every time I've seen La Bayadere the idol looked like he was painted gold.  Why not the Golden Idol?) and how was he? I remember reading an online review a few years ago (I can't remember who but it was someone who use to post on Ballet Alert but then got a blog.)  Anyway the reviewer said something like everyone who had ever seen Corella or Cornejo dance the Bronze Idol had to die before a new Bronze Idol could be appreciated.)  So far I've found this to be true.  No Bronze Idol has lived up to my memories of Corella and Cornejo.  But I keep living in hope.  Maybe today the Bronze Idol's performance will blow me away.  I'll let you know.



#17 nysusan

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 05:23 AM

Yesterday's performance was magnificent. Vishneva, Gomes & Murphy all wove a magic spell. Murphy showed no sign of her recent injury, Vishneva was mesmerizing and Marcelo, well - he was Marcelo!

 

All of the soloists were good, too - Agoudine, Lane, Copeland, Teuscher, Kajiya. Craig Salstein danced Bronze idol. He was good, but nowhere near Simkin's level - let alone Corella and Cornejo.



#18 onxmyxtoes

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 05:31 AM

After watching last night's performance, I am having a hard time getting as excited about the casts for the rest of the week.  As amazing as the guest artists may be, I don't have an emotional connection to them as I do with Gomes, Vishneva, and Murphy.  How cruel for ABT to start the La Bayadere run with pinnacle cast.  The bar has been set astronomically high for the rest of the week.



#19 Ceeszi

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 08:31 AM

Craig Salstein was the Bronze Idol on Friday night. He was very good. The best Bronze Idol I ever saw was Cornejo, although Simkin was pretty good himself.

#20 Ceeszi

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 08:34 AM

After watching last night's performance, I am having a hard time getting as excited about the casts for the rest of the week.  As amazing as the guest artists may be, I don't have an emotional connection to them as I do with Gomes, Vishneva, and Murphy.  How cruel for ABT to start the La Bayadere run with pinnacle cast.  The bar has been set astronomically high for the rest of the week.


I agree with you, although I am looking forward to Tereshkina/Shklyarov. I saw Tereshkina dance Gamzatti (with Vishneva as Nikiya) when the Mariinsky was in DC in the winter of 2008.

#21 Lcg

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 10:30 AM

If you have not yet seen Olga Smirnova get thee to the Met on Wednesday. Vaganova trained, immediately taken into Bolshoi as soloist, still only 22. Some faults but always improving and definitely on the path of greatness. A marvel in all that she does.
Muntagirov, to me at least, runs hot and cold, but is always an excellent partner. Act II should be brilliant..her Nikya in London was extraordinary. Copeland is, well, Copeland, Not my cup of tea but possibly yours.

#22 Kaysta

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 04:48 PM

Saw the matinee today.

Thought both Part and Whiteside were fantastic, much better than last weeks Don Q. I feel like Part is made to play Nikiya, her arms are so long and her lines are gorgeous. Whiteside was much steadier lifting her, and the two had very believable chemistry. I loved them both.

Stella was Gamzatti, and I enjoyed her performance. She fell out of her fouettes in act one, but that was the only mistake I noticed (with my beginners eyes). I liked the way she played Gamzatti, she seemed to have almost a sinister quality. The act 3 solo was fabulous.

The only other time I saw La Bayadere is the Royal Ballet video. Seeing act two in person will probably be the highlight of the met season for me. The corps was fantastic, and the room was so quiet at times, you could hear a pin drop. The three solos were all outstanding.

In case you can't tell, I enjoyed this way more than Don Q!!!

#23 ord7916

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 05:02 PM

I will second the review above.   Stella was great.  Someone in the audience commented that Veronika was "stiff".  I can't say I agree, though admittedly she was better in Swan Lake last year.  

 

Act II was a thrill to watch and I fully concur on the soloists and the corps.  And this was the first time I've seen something at ABT in which the scenery and costumes actually impressed me.  

 

Joseph Gorak was the Bronze Idol and did a fine job.  That scene felt a bit out of place to me - as if they just threw it in there because the audience wants to see it.   

 

I took everyone's advice and chose Grand Tier Row A.  It is great having no one in front of you and great to see the patterns.  But you cannot see the faces, although I couldn't see the faces very well from Orchestra Row J either.   

 

I am not easily impressed, but I really enjoyed this one.  It wowed me in a way that Don Q sadly did not.  This was my first time seeing Whiteside in anything and he was a treat to watch.  Watching him lift Veronika and carrying her around the stage - OMG.  Now, I can look forward to him in Cinderella.  



#24 mimsyb

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 08:19 PM

Alina Cojocaru=Perfection!  Tonight was simply stunning!



#25 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 03:25 AM

I definitely agree with Kaysta and ord7916 about the Saturday matinee.  I will post more in a day or so but it was so beautiful and many of the performances (especially Part and Whiteside) are still playing in my head.  Having seen Part dance the role twice with Gomes, I knew what a perfect Nikiya she would be.  Whiteside was the revelation.  Great dancing, great acting, palpable chemistry with Part.  I loved the Part/Gomes partnership but now I'm looking forward to a new partnership with Part and Whiteside.

 

The shades were much better than when I saw them two years ago.  Just a tiny bobble or two when they reached the stage.  Joseph Gorak was the Bronze Idol.  I don't think he's quite up to the level of Corella or Cornejo in the role but he was very close.  Definitely the best Bronze Idol I've seen since Cornejo.  Why isn't Gorak a soloist?  Maybe at the end of the season after he dances Frantz in Coppelia he'll be promoted.  I truly hope so.

 

ord7916 brings up an interesting point about the placement of the Bronze Idol solo in La Bayadere.  Overall I prefer Makarova's version of the ballet, but in the Bolshoi version for example (I've been watching the dvd) the Bronze Idol solo is part of the divertisements at Gamzatti and Solor's betrothal ceremony.  I think this solo fits better there.



#26 MRR

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Posted 25 May 2014 - 08:58 PM

My review of the Friday Bayadere. Forgive me for writing a novel about the show, but being concise is not my strong suit!
 
It's no secret that as a leading international ballet company ABT it at a crossroads.  Many have complained about ABT not showing inspired performances as of late, but for an organization criticized for having insufficient coaching, endless guest artists, and overlooked dancers, American Ballet Theatre came together as a company tonight in front a packed house at the MET.  This performance was in most respects a triumph.  La Bayadere, a ballet with its hokey plot and shallow characters, is often as good or bad as its dancers.  And on Friday, the ballet received rich characterizations by three memorable leads. 
 
As Nikiya, Diana Vishneva gives one of those rare performances which has the audience riveted within the first ten seconds.  As the veil was lifted to reveal Nikiya in the opening scene, Vishneva had this intensity and mystery in her eyes that was unlike anything I had seen before.  Part of Vishneva's mastery of Nikiya is that she takes the character to different extremes than one would expect: her emotions are never presented as stereotypes of the character.  Beginning as a modest temple dancer Act I, Vishneva gradually peels off the layers of her character throughout the act, revealing a certain eroticism in her first pas with Solor, a strong will in rejecting the advances of the High Brahmin, and a killer instinct in fighting with Gamzatti.  Even as the audience knows the plot, Vishneva as Nikiya seems not to; rather she creates the story, Nikiya's story, right before our eyes.  The harem pant solo showcased lush cambres and a palpable despair for a life without Solor, and Vishneva's expressive arms and hands were used to full effect here. 
 
As human as Vishneva is in the first act, she becomes an ethereal, ghostly spirit in the second act.  Where Vishneva began the ballet with a human connection to the dancers, she enters the Shades scene detached from everything around her, hardly ever looking at Solor.  I had never thought of Shades as being eerie, but Vishneva's aura in this scene was haunting.  She suddenly becomes something out of a dark dream, a spirit with no relation to anything. 
 
Vishneva was perhaps faced with her biggest test technically in Shades, as she has dropped several of her major classical roles in the past few years.  Where Vishneva's technique may have degraded in certain respects due to age--loss of extension in her arabesque, a lower jump--she is always able to take your eyes away from her shortcomings.  Even in the first promenade to the arabesque balance, she didn't have a high arabesque, but the way she elongated the balance to enhance her ghostliness was thrilling.  Both the first pas and the scarf pas were taken at extremely slow tempi, but Vishneva had the presence and technique to pull it off.  For those who want to know about the pirouettes in the scarf pas:  the first double to the right was shaky, but the other two were strong; in fact, her double to the left appeared the most comfortable.  She finished the coda off with an aggressive, if not especially high, manege of tour jetes and a thrilling series of soutenus with tremendous speed.
 
Marcelo Gomes is a Solor for the ages. In this ballet he has it all: technical strength, exemplary partnering, and a masculine, imposing presence.  As with Vishneva, he knows how to captivate an audience right from the entrance.  His love for Nikiya could not have been more evident, but Gomes's relationship to Murphy's Gamzatti was just as fascinating.  As opposed to many Solors who have a very black-and-white relationship with Gamzatti and Nikiya, Gomes fully acknowledged Gamzatti's beauty, while maintaining the sense that he could never love Gamzatti like he loves Nikiya.  The sheer desperation evoked when the Rajah informs him that he must marry Gamzatti was riveting, and this came full circle after the Shades scene when Solor sees Gamzatti again.  As Muprhy walked closer to Gomes, it was as if the energy of his entire body drew away from her.
 
Technically he showed an excellent, if not especially ambitious, variation in act one.  There could have been more delineated beats in the double cabrioles, but the turns in second were finely executed as was the manege.  Somehow, Gomes's dancing grew even stronger through to the second act.  He had this frenetic energy in the opium scene which made the audience believe him to be in a drug-induced state.  In Shades, his gorgeous sprawling grand jetes made the MET stage appear too small.  The ending coda featured an even stronger set of a la seconde turns than in the first act, following with a manege of five double saut de basques, preferring those to the double assembles done by most Solors. 
 
Evident in this performance is that Gomes, a dancer who has shown tremendous work throughout the years, is in the prime of his career.  Technically the goods are still there, his partnering is exemplary, but into his thirties his artistry and interpretations have become so rich: every gesture, every arm, every entrance and exit is worth more than ever before. 
 
Gillian Murphy was the least remarkable of the three leads, but nonetheless her performance was great by any standard.  Her fight scene with Nikiya was spectacular: Vishneva and Murphy had a fascinating dynamic because Gamzatti showed how clearly she was above Nikiya.  But in spite of her initial haughtiness, Murphys Gamzatti becomes desperate very quickly, practically flinging herself onto Nikiya when begging her to give up Solor.  In the wedding scene Murphy was overshadowed somewhat by Gomes's star power and Vishneva's solo; there was a bit of tension in her shoulders and neck during the variation and not the glamor that she could have exuded.  However, Murphy was very strong in the third act solo, showing tremendous turns and a clear dramatic sense of losing Solor.
 
Shades corps was a mixed bag.  A special shout out should be given to Gemma Bond for leading the shades so professionally.  The ABT shades have rather low arabesques, with the exception of the third shade who had a gorgeous arabesque you might see out of the Mariinsky shades, but a poor sense of timing when it came to following the arabesques of the first two ladies.  Overall in spite of some bobbles throughout the adagio, it was quite a decent effort for 24 dancers of different training backgrounds.
 
The three soloist shades (Sarah Lane, Devon Teuscher, Misty Copeland) also showed this lack of uniformity in style, hugely apparent during the waltz.  The variations went from best to worst.  Lane was gorgeous, with her pirouettes finishing with smooth developpes right on the music.  Devon Teuscher was a bit tentative in the opening of the second variation, with a couple pirouettes not finishing on top, but she has a wonderfully straight back and a certain serenity in this scene.  Copeland fumbled an arabesque and her opening cabrioles lacked amplitude.
 
Craig Salstein was a decent Bronze Idol, but quite diminished in quality relative to an Angel Corella in the role (of what I have seen on youtube, anyway).



#27 bingham

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Posted 26 May 2014 - 05:40 AM

  It is really too bad that Marcelo's  performances has not been filmed for posterity.



#28 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 26 May 2014 - 10:45 AM

Here is my more detailed review of Saturday matinee performance of La Bayadere.  Veronika Part is a dancer born to play the part of Nikiya.  She is a wonderfully lyrical performer with glorious extensions.  Her beautifully pliant upper body clearly shows Nikiya's despair when Solor becomes engaged to Gamzatti.  Part's Nikiya is an innocent young girl.  Her love for Solor is her whole world and she cannot understand the machinations of the High Brahmin, the Radjah and Gamzatti.  In the Kingdom of the Shades Part shows off her powerfully high grand jetes.  She is the perfect vessel for Ludwig MInkus' score.  I have only one small quibble with Part's performance.  Her turns at the end of Act II lack speed.

 

Having seen Part dance Nikiya in the past (with Marcelo Gomes) I was expecting a great performance from her.  This is my first timeme however, seeing James Whiteside in a leading role in a full length ballet.  His Solor is a revelation.  Whiteside stands out for his soaring leaps with the softest of landings.  His double barrel air assemble turns are spot on.  Whiteside's Solor truly loves Nikiya but he is a man of the world.  He knows a lowly temple dancer can never marry a noble of the warrior class.  That being said, Nikiya's death brings Solor to the edge of misery.  After he has seen Nikiya in the Kingdom of the Shades, Whiteside's Solor knows that he will never willingly marry Gamzatti.  Fortunately the gods are on Nikiya and Solor's side (the side of true love) and as already mentioned at the end of La Bayadere Nikiya and Solor are reunited in the afterworld.

 

As magnificently as Part and Whiteside dance separately, magic occurs when they dance together.  Whiteside is a wonderfully attentive partner and the chemistry between Part and Whiteside is palpable.  As much as I loved the chemistry between Part and Gomes, I now look forward to seeing Part and Whiteside perform together for many years.

 

Stella Abrera delivers a marvelous characterization of Gamzatti, the Radjah's daughter.  She is a haughty beauty who has learned much about treachery and deceit from her father.  Abrera's Gamzatti really loves Solor and she believes this gives her the right to do anything to win him.  Overall Abrera's dancing is strong though she does fall off pointe at the end of the betrothal ceremony.

 

Thomas Forster's High Brahmin needs more work.  I miss Victor Barbee's flesh and blood portrayal of the role.  Grant DeLong is a powerful Radjah who radiates command and authority.  Joseph Gorak is the best Bronze Idol I have seen since Herman Cornejo.  The Bronze Idol dances a brief but incredibly difficult solo which involves speeding up and braking at a breakneck pace.  I don't think Gorak is yet up to the level of Angel Corella or Cornejo, but he's close.  I don't understand why Gorak has not been promoted to soloist.

 

No review of La Bayadere would be complete without mention of the female corps de ballet in Act II.  I doubt that there is any more beautiful sight in classical ballet than the moment when the Shades float down the ramp in the moonlight, their leg stretched out behind in arabesque position.  I see one or two tiny bobbles once the Shades reach the stage, but they do not detract from the magic.  Overall the corps arabesque are well timed and in sync.



#29 c-green

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 02:22 AM

  It is really too bad that Marcelo's  performances has not been filmed for posterity.

 

I totally agree with bingham.
His technique, emotional expressiveness, and the magical chemistry with ballerinas are a big legacy of ballet world.
Why, why ABT won't publish his performances to DVD??

I saw Gomes & Vishneva's "La Bayadere" in Tokyo in 2012. That was beyond words... absolutely perfect.
There were many famous ballet dancers among the audiences -- Vladimir Malakhov, Manuel legris, Patrick de Bana, and so on, because  "World Ballet Festival" that gathered whole world's top ballet dancers was held in Tokyo at that time.
Marcelo seemed to be so excited and enthusiastic to dance with Vishneva while such great dancers gazed.  
He exploded many incredible big jumps without any landing noise and showed other many breathtaking tour de force. The partnering ,especially in shadow scene was absolutely smooth and lyrical.
All audiences were fascinated and there were many curtain calls. That was so memorable and should be recorded.



#30 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 27 May 2014 - 04:54 AM

mimsyb you've said that the May 24th evening performance was "perfection" and "simply stunning" but I'd love to read a more complete review (when you have time of course).   I would also like to read about the May 26th evening performance.  Obviously I can't go to every performance but reading about them is the next best thing.




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